Defective Products in Pennsylvania
What Is A Defective Product?
In today’s consumer world, we are constantly buying new things. We use Amazon without thinking, without really realizing that we may be getting products from third party sellers who do not necessarily guarantee the product’s quality. Even if we get a brand name product straight from the brand, there still could be an issue. Recalls are in the news quite often, when products are defective or could make people sick. But what happens if you are unlucky enough to receive a defective product, and then get injured while using it?
Legally, What Happens Next?
If you have been injured by a defective product, you may have a claim against the seller of that product. When it comes to product liability, anyone in the chain of distribution could be held liable for your injury. So, the plaintiff will need to determine who to file suit against. Once this is determined, the court will decide if the defendant is liable for the injury.
In Pennsylvania, the key factor is whether or not the defendant is found to be the seller of the goods. This was especially important in a recent case between a Pennsylvania resident and Amazon this year, when a court of appeals ultimately found that Amazon was liable for the injury the Plaintiff sustained under strict liability. The Plaintiff here had purchased a leash on Amazon, and when using it to walk her dog, it broke, causing her to go blind in one eye. In this case, the court looked at the nature of the company, Amazon. Since consumers use the site to purchase goods from third party sellers, it was a bit tricky to determine whether Amazon would be liable.
In the first trial, Amazon was found not liable, as the court determined that the third party seller was at fault. However, on appeal, the decision was reversed. Pennsylvania uses a four part test to determine who is a seller. Here, Amazon met those four factors. First, it was the only member of the distribution chain who was available to the Plaintiff, as the third party seller was not approachable. Second, due to the nature of the company, imposing strict liability on Amazon provides them an incentive for safety, as it is their duty to protect their consumers and ensure all sellers are providing safe goods. Third, Amazon was in the best position to prevent the spread of defective products to consumers – the Plaintiff here could not control that. Finally, also due to the nature of its business, Amazon could more easily cover the cost of repaying those injured by defective goods. They could simply charge the third party sellers more and also using an indemnification clause.
If you or someone you know has used what you believe to be a defective product recently, contact us at Kardos, Rickles & Hand for help. Our experienced Bucks County personal injury attorneys can help you figure out whether you have a claim, who may be liable, and how to pursue it in court.